Helen Hardy

Standard 1 - Know students and how they learn

1.1 Use teaching strategies based on knowledge of students’ physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics to improve student learning.

Developing relationships with students and their families enables me to have an understanding of each student’s development to ensure that learning meets their individual needs. I provide learning experiences that cater to visual, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic learners by giving instructions in a clear and concise manner using modelling, hands on resources and clear steps. Strategies also include ensuring that students do not sit for too long during modeling and encouraging movement between learning experiences by stretching or games such as copying my movements. One stimulating game that challenges students is to undertake a movement I say rather than the movement I perform. This challenges both visual and auditory learning students and builds concentration. Undertaking a movement to the next activity is also undertaken such as crawling to a literacy activity which strengthens the forearms prior to undertaking writing activities.

I also provide visual displays to assist visual learners and those students who benefit from routine and structure. Learning experiences are modelled to ensure students understand the expectations. Learning experiences are differentiated by providing activities that meet a range of developmental growth.

A check for understanding is provided such as a thumbs up or down to ensure that students understand the given instructions. Children are also given time to formulate responses as not all students respond in the same time frame. Additional time is also given to students when speaking to ensure that they feel valued and know that their contribution is important to the learning of others. Young children who feel secure and valued are more likely to develop positive relationships with other people (Kearns, 2010).

Visual displays – words, sounds, bump it up and timetabling.

Visual displays – sh words, letters, word walls, school expectations and learning outcomes - WALT, WIB and WILT.

Hands-on activities include manipulatives and resources that build fine motor skill development. Fine motor development is necessary for the development of writing. The activities are arranged to cater for independent work, collaboration in a group as well as a guided or teacher supported group to ensure all learning styles are met. I encourage students to be part of the learning process by physically engaging in activities rather than watching learning occur.

I use a number of strategies to gain the attention of students such as clapping hands, using a bell, a shaker and ‘one to three, eyes on me’. I ensure that I wait until I have the attention of all students before speaking.

1.2 Structure teaching programs using research and collegial advice about how students learn.

Research shows that early childhood is the optimum time for brain development (Mustard, 2007). The mental health and wellbeing of a child has a direct impact on the ability to learn which in turn impacts on a child’s capacity to maximise their potential. Children’s ability and behaviours in the first three years is pre-determined by the teacher/child relationship in kindergarten (Talay-Ongan & Ap, 2005). Further, Howes (as cited in Talay-Ongan & Ap, 2005) reports that children who have secure teacher/child relationships in preschool years are likely to rate higher in social competence and had positive child-teacher relationships five years later in year 2.

Many influences impact on a child’s ability to learn including the environment in which a child lives, the family dynamics, and the presence of illness or disability. Therefore, the relationships and learning environment in early childhood need to be secure and nurturing to establish a positive attitude to learning.

I use my knowledge of children’s development to structure my learning experiences to ensure they are age and developmentally appropriate. However, I also work with the student’s previous educators where possible to gain an understanding of where the students are developmentally and their progress. Understanding the development that has taken place previously helps me gain an understanding of students’ learning styles and growth.

I also work with the kindergarten team to develop learning experiences that meet the needs of the kindergarten students. Wellbeing meetings enable us to provide additional experiences for students who require extension and for those who require support to ensure that all learning is appropriate and additional programs available.

1.3 Design and implement teaching strategies that are responsive to the learning strengths and needs of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.

I embrace the diverse backgrounds of all students. I encourage students to answer the roll in their own language and when learning frequent sight words I inquire if they can say the sight word in their home language. This strategy helps students remember sight words. I have implemented Australian Sign Language in the classroom which embraces the different ways people communicate and also develops fine motor skills.

Harmony Day is celebrated to recognise cultural diversity. The students create their own class poster to represent inclusivity, respect and the sense of belonging that we all share.

I encourage students to speak in front of the class to explain about their cultural celebrations when they occur and to dress in traditional clothing if possible.

We discuss and research all celebrations and the students create their own poster to show which occasion is celebrated by their family. We research occasions such as Australian Day, Chinese New Year, ANZAC Day, Ramadan, Easter, Christmas and Halloween.

The students discuss celebrations and then create artworks to show the different family celebrations such as Diwali the festival of lights, Pongal the harvest festival and Easter and Christmas.

Birthdays are celebrated supported by books to demonstrate the different ways families celebrate special occasions

Students create their own medals in recognition of ANZAC Day.

1.4 Design and implement teaching strategies that are responsive to local community and cultural settings, linguistic background and histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

During my University studies I had the opportunity to study Indigenous Australian Education. Part of my research was to review the literature regarding the Cherbourg State School and the changes that were implemented to alter the negative culture of the school to one of Best Practice. The Cherbourg School demonstrates the importance of educators producing culturally sensitive programs that incorporate Aboriginal perspectives and knowledge. Quality relationships based on interaction and respect rather than directives, orders, and confrontation need to be adopted for all students.

Indigenous students in particular benefit from being given responsibility for their own learning (Harrison, 2011) which can be rewarded through acknowledging their strengths and achievements.

Acknowledgement of Country is said before each assembly. The students learn to recognise and create the three flags that represent Australia and explain their importance.

Learning experiences include using Aboriginal symbols and words to create artworks, counting and literacy.

1.5 Develop teaching activities that incorporate differentiated strategies to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities.

All Learning experiences are developed to ensure differentiation as all students’ progress at different stages. Literacy activities meet the needs of individual learners.

Differentiating – learner still developing letter sound knowledge.

Students developing sight word knowledge.

Differentiating – counting and number identification.

Numbers 1 – 10 for less confident learners – students arrange the numbers in order to make the picture – words support picture (links to literacy).
Numbers 1 – 30 filling in missing numbers for students who are counting beyond 10.

Reading and writing groups are undertaken each day in mixed groups. . During this time I listen to students read at their own level. I then encouraged students to use a range of reading strategies to help them (skippy frog, eagle eye etc). I then question students to determine comprehension. Questions such as ‘why’, ‘who’, ‘how do you know’, ‘can you find the word’, ‘what is happening next’ etc?

I incorporated the use of individual whiteboards during many lessons to assist students who require more assistance. This provides one-on-one help. Students can then continue working at their own pace asking for additional assistance as required.

Writing tasks are designed to help those students who require assistance.

Students are also encouraged to draw their retell or story first and add words for those students who are still not writing sentences.

1.6 Design and implement teaching activities that support the participation and learning of students with disabilities and address relevant policy and legislative requirements.

The US Education for All Handicapped Children Act 1975 was replaced by the Individuals With disabilities Education Act 2004 which ensures that all children and youth, regardless of disability, have the right to a free and appropriate public education in an accessible environment with their typically developing peers (UNICEF, 2013).

My role as educator is to ensure that every child can fully participate in all activities. I ensure that students have access to resources such as pencils grips, ergonomic scissors, chair supports as well as external assistance from Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists. I allow students extra time to complete work where necessary. Some students require extra time for toileting and self-care issues. For three years I worked with a student who has cerebral palsy. I ensured that her dignity was maintained at all times by reminding students and staff to speak directly to her and not through me. I modified learning experiences to ensure that she had full access to activities.

I adapt Physical Education or sporting experiences. I incorporate the use of bean bags rather than balls to develop catching skills and ensure that activities take place in areas that are accessible for all students. I encourage students to stand if they have difficulty rising from a seated position and ensuring that equipment is height and age appropriate. Skipping can be undertaken as an individual activity or in a group with the rope height modified for individual students.